World

Report: ISIS Leader al-Baghdadi Killed In Air Strike

| by Kathryn Schroeder

An unverified report claims that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed during an air strike in Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State heavily bombed Raqqa, the extremist group's stronghold, on June 10. Syrian state television has reported that al-Baghdadi was killed in the air strike with heavy artillery, according to The Sun.

Amaq, the official media wing of ISIS, has not confirmed al-Baghdadi's death. 

The Islamic State leader, who has a more than $25 million bounty on his head for delivering sermons that incite violence and promote suicide bombings, has been falsely reported dead before. In January, there were reports that he had been critically injured in air strikes in northern Iraq. The Pentagon announced in March that al-Baghdadi was still alive.

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"If we get the opportunity, we certainly would take advantage of any opportunity to deliver him the justice he deserves," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at the time. "We're doing everything we can. This is something we're spending a lot of time on."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said al-Baghdadi would eventually be killed.

"Nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputies are now dead, including the mastermind behind the attacks in Brussels, Paris and elsewhere," he said. "It is only a matter of time before Baghdadi himself meets the same fate."

The current report of his death by local news outlets in Syria occurred as Iraqi forces claimed his deputy, Ayad al-Jumaili, was killed in an air strike near the border of Iraq and Syria. Al-Jumaili was a former intelligence officer for Saddam Hussein. Iraqi TV refers to him as being second-in-command and the war minister of the Islamic State.

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Raqqa24, an activist group, reported an air strike in Raqqa claimed the lives of at least seven civilians on June 10, but did not mention al-Baghdadi. According to intelligence agencies, he was hiding in the desert outside Mosul before fleeing to Raqqa when the Iraqi army attacked the city.

Intelligence agencies are skeptical that al-Baghdadi is in fact dead.

In 2013, al-Baghdadi escaped capture by mere minutes in Iraq, according to the Mirror Online. Since then, there have been numerous Islamic State led attacks across the globe. Al-Baghdadi has not been seen in public since 2014 when he preached inside Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri.

Sources: The Sun, Mirror Online / Photo credit: Beshr Abdulhadi/Flickr

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